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Photo: The University of Pennsylvania
Penn professor Amy Wax has a history of making racist comments and then being blasted for them. Photo: The University of Pennsylvania

UPenn professor Amy Wax is back in the worst way possible, now targeting Asian-Americans

Wax recently appeared on a journalist’s web show and made comments about the rise of Asian-American students in U.S. med schools, among others.

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“We’re not even finished with the *first week* of 2022 and my existence as an Asian-American immigrant is already being threatened by harmful, xenophobic racism in the media,” wrote Filipina activist, Kim Saira, on her Instagram page.

Saira was referring to a Dec. 20 interview on journalist Glenn Loury’s web show, in which a tenured law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Wax, made anti-Asian comments. 

“If you go into medical schools, you’ll see that Indians, South Asians are now rising stars. In medicine, they’re sort of the new Jews, I guess, but these diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are poisoning the scientific establishment and the medical establishment now,” said Wax, who is Jewish.

The dean of UPenn has criticized Wax for her suggestion that the U.S. is “better off with fewer Asians and less Asian immigration.”

“Once again, Amy Wax has, through her thoroughly anti-intellectual and racist comments denigrating Asian immigrants, underscored a fundamental tension around harmful speech at American universities,” Dean Theodore Rugers wrote in a statement.

The Washington Post reported that Wax has previously faced backlash for falsely claiming that Black students in their classes are rarely among the most successful students at Penn.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half,” she said in a 2017 interview with Loury.

Loury, a social sciences professor at Brown University, attempted to defend Asian-Americans by invoking the model minority myth.

“What would be wrong with having a lot of Chinese or Indian or Korean engineers, physicians, computer scientists and whatnot, running around here creating value?” he said. 

Continuing to dig herself a deeper hole, Wax also said that Asians in the U.S. should be more thankful.

Contrary to the model minority myth which has been embedded in the minds of many non-Asian citizens, not all Asian-Americans are wealthy.

A 2021 report by the Asian American Foundation found that the number of Asian Americans living in poverty in New York City rose by 15% over the past decade.

Furthermore, beginning at the start of the pandemic, there has been a steady and dramatic surge in the number of anti-Asian hate crimes

“Why should someone who emigrated from India, has taken advantage of everything our society has to offer, who is leading the good life, who’s part of the elite — why shouldn’t that person be objectively grateful? And, you know, recognize overtly all the wonderful things about our country?” Wax said.

In his statement, Dean Ruger said that Wax’s views serve as a reminder that racism and xenophobia are not just “theoretical abstractions” but real and sinister belief systems in this country.

“This reality sharpens and deepens our commitment to support our community as we continue to work to advance equity and inclusion,” Ruger said. 

Wax’s comments quickly went viral on social media, and her call for fewer Asians in the country has sparked backlash across the U.S. and on the UPenn campus. 

Even former President Donald Trump’s niece spoke up against Wax’s statements on Twitter. 

“It helps explain the situation this country finds itself in that an Ivy League university allows the morally and intellectually bankrupt racist #AmyWax teach the next generation of American lawyers. There should be consequences for this kind of hateful rhetoric,” she wrote.

"I don't appreciate hearing comments like that because I don't want to be part of a community that has words like that," UPenn graduate student Amanda Paluba told 6ABC.

UPenn students have created a petition to fire Wax, which has already amassed 65,822 signatures.

“While Penn touts itself as a beacon of diversity and inclusion with black and brown students showcased on its admission materials, the administration continues to turn a blind eye to the racism prevalent in its faculty,” the petition reads.

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